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Madeleine: Separating Fact From Gossip

Original Source: SKY: 07 SEPTEMBER 2007
By Kate Sullivan Sky News Online, Portugal
Updated: 14:03, Friday September 07, 2007

The rumour mill has been churning in the Algarve for many weeks - but with the latest developments, the gossip has reached fever pitch.

Secrecy laws in Portugal keep police from revealing most details of an investigation.

This has only added fuel to the gossip, which has really been flying since Kate McCann was called in for further questioning by detectives.

Nevertheless, no one here knows, or seems able to remember, where many of the rumours originated.

One couple standing outside the police station in Portimao quoted "a woman at the hotel who knows someone".

Another person said a cafe owner apparently married to a police officer had told them all the latest.

Yet another person quoted the Portuguese media, while someone else spouted a taxi driver's take on the case.

It's easy to see how the tittle-tattle ends up in the papers - it is bandied about the streets of the Algarve as if it's fact.

Some of the "wild accusations", as Sky News's crime correspondent Martin Brunt called them, centre around the night Madeleine went missing.

Rumours also abound about the little girl's favourite cuddly toy, phantom syringes and one of the hire cars used by the McCanns.

But people here are more circumspect when pressed. "We only heard that... it's not that we believe it," they say.

Up to 300 people were outside the police station when Kate McCann was released after 11 hours of questioning on Thursday.

The expression on her face when she left the police station showed she knew exactly what people were asking: "Why was she held for so long?"

"It's terrible that people are jumping to conclusions," said Jacqueline, who declined to give her full name.

"You can't imagine the family doing what some people say - never in the world. But a lot of Portuguese people have been talking like this for a long time."

Recently, Gerry McCann complained about a lack of restraint by the Portuguese media.

Perhaps Jacqueline knows why there have been so many negative stories about the McCanns.

"Everybody wants to know there is no kidnapper or murderer in the Algarve," she said.


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